Creative wines, decorating and serving tips bring inspiration to your Sukkot table
Sukkot is a wonderful time of year. The weather begins to change and children can spend hours poring over Sukkah decoration to create a festive Sukkot atmosphere.
According to tradition, the reason Sukkot takes place immediately after Yom Kippur is that after atoning on Yom Kippur we are a clean slate. With this fresh beginning, we are especially capable of fulfilling the mitzvah of joy on Sukkot; joy is an important part of the celebration.
Joy is built on your own personal styles and tastes. For me, it’s combing the right mix of food and wine. Heavier fall foods tend to keep guests warm and full on a cooler Sukkot night. The wine keeps the night going and tends to open guests up for deeper conversation.
[pullquote align=”none”]”And the smell of the crockpot simmering all day fills the house with mouthwatering anticipation.”[/pullquote]
My favorite three-bean chili, which combines white beans, chickpeas and black beans with ground turkey and loads of flavorful stewed tomatoes is a big hit among both male and female guests. And the smell of the crockpot simmering all day fills the house with mouthwatering anticipation. I like to serve it with a Zinfandel, such as the Baron Herzog Zinfandel, a spicy masterpiece with gigantic flavors and a silky intensity. It’s a little smoky at the finish for ultimate pleasure.
My friend Yosef Needleman is more about the Sukkah set up. Living in Jerusalem, he arranges his Sukkah more like a hookah bar or coffee shop lounge. With low-lying tables and lots of cushions on the ground, he says crawling into his sukkah feels like “crawling into a womb. It’s super warm and comfortable.”
To create an ambiance, he adds tapestries and other colorful pieces of fabric. Serving family-style, he looks for large, decorative serving dishes or platters.
Educator and mother Shira Hecht-Koller is always thinking about how to help her children and their friends learn about Sukkot in creative ways. One year she threw a recycle party, decorating her table with chalk-painted wine bottles that served as place cards and vases. That year, her children told the story of Sukkot through sticker art and poetry.
“We called it our wandering retrospective,” Hecht-Koller recalls.
Another evening, Hecht-Koller threw a glow-in the-dark necklace Sukkah meal and asked her children to make black magic scratch off artwork for the walls.
If you cannot do what Hecht-Koller does (and I know I won’t ever get that creative!), you can always read “Sammy Spider’s first Sukkot.” It’s a classic in my house. And it makes it easier when the kids see creepy crawling things in the Sukkah. One year my five-year old pointed to a particularly large spider on our sukkah wall and said, “Look, Mom! There’s Sammy!”
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